This week, it’s Taylor Swift’s universe, and we all just live in it. ‘Nuff said:


Even though the set’s uptempo lead single “Mine” is neither half as interesting nor entertaining as “Love Story,” the cross-format smash which introduced her previous album, Speak Now, the third album the absolute hottest thing going right now in music — that sly, seemingly ubiquitous songstress Taylor Swift — is on track to shatter Shania Twain’s eight-year-old mark for the biggest sales week ever posted by a female country artist. Twain managed to move some 875,000 copies of her most recent studio effort Up! in its debut week in the fall of 2002; based on sales figures from the first couple of days, industry insiders are whispering loudly that Speak could well have been snatched up a staggering one million times by close of business on Sunday. (For a bit of perspective, this week’s number one record — Sugarland’s fascinating The Incredible Machine — sold just over 200,000 copies in its opening frame; Toby Keith and Lil Wayne also topped the chart this month, with first-week sales of 70,000 and 120,000, respectively.) There’s no doubting that Swift writes spectacularly strong, eminently relatable tunes (even though her ability to effectively sing them remains in serious question), and for an industry mired in tumult and searching desperately to regain its mojo, a week such as this serves as a powerful reminder that buyers can still be lured to their local record store in droves when given good reason. And for that, regardless of whatever faults her music may or may not wear proudly, Swift should be applauded. (If you’re looking for even more Swift, pick up your copy of Speak Now at Target, whose exclusive deluxe version of the album contains six bonus tracks, including the pop radio mix of “Mine.”)

Also noteworthy this week:


  • Michael Buble updates his 2009 album Crazy Love with a new seven-track EP Hollywood, which comes either as a stand-alone disc,
    or bundled in a deluxe edition of Love.

  • The Glee invasion continues with series star Mark Salling (Puck),
    who drops his debut album, Pipe Dreams.

  • Don’t misunderstand me, I love this band. But because they already have a number of hits collections bearing their name, I’m entirely unsure what the world stands to gain from this week’s release of
    The Very, Very Best of Crowded House.

  • Speaking of best-ofs, Sony Legacy releases compilations under their terrific Essential banner highlighting the masterful music of
    Dixie Chicks, Highwaymen, and Paul Simon (the lattermost of which is merely a repackaged version of a previously-released hits set).

  • Covers from Jamey Johnson, Sam Moore, and head Crow Counter Adam Duritz highlight The Imus Ranch Record II, a follow-up collection to 2008’s original benefit album, 100% of the proceeds from which go toward the maintenance of Don Imus’ New Mexico cattle ranch, which helps children and teenagers afflicted with cancer and other incurable diseases.

  • A rare, previously unreleased duet with the legendary Johnny Cash punctuates Rare Genius: The Undiscovered Masters, a posthumous release from the late, great Ray Charles.

  • Finally, Oscar winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow remakes herself as a faded, down-on-her-luck Nashville starlet in the much-anticipated upcoming film Country Strong, the soundtrack for which is built around her but which also features contributions from Lee Ann Womack, Sara Evans, Ronnie Dunn (of Brooks and Dunn fame), and Tim McGraw (who co-stars in Strong as Paltrow’s husband).

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